The FBI and The Importance of Culture

I was a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 13 years. I left the FBI in September of 2016. The story of why I left is coming, just not today. As everyone who has ever worked with me knows, the importance of culture, correction… of a LEADERSHIP culture, is the center piece to my belief system. I often highlight my experience as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander to speak about culture to my clients and readers. The Navy SEAL culture remains the bedrock for everything good I believe about leadership. So, this then, is about culture. More specifically the role of integrity in culture.

Touting yourself or your organization as having a culture of integrity is fine. You can say you are aboveboard and beyond reproach all you like. You can say you expect these qualities at all levels of your organization and will not tolerate anything less. Your organization may even be very good at living these qualities. For the most part, you and your organization may exhibit honesty and integrity with very few examples to the contrary. But here is where it gets tricky.

Showing integrity and doing the right thing is only part of the integrity equation. This is because we are human and we all make mistakes. So, if the culture you are propping up in the name of integrity is that you never make mistakes, then there is a problem. The ability to be honest and admit your mistakes is every bit as important in the integrity equation as simply doing the right thing. Because honestly, admitting a mistake is the right thing to do. Leave this part out of the integrity equation and you no longer have a culture of integrity, you have a culture of arrogance and deceit. You know what takes care of this problem? You guessed it… LEADERSHIP.

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